When Would I Need a Durable Power of Attorney?

When people typically think of Estate Planning, they think of death, taxes and other inevitable situations.  Surprisingly, they rarely consider what would happen if they lost capacity.  Imagine a husband and wife who own a house and have 2.5 children.  In this scenario, both the husband and wife signed on the dotted line for the loan to buy the house.  Life seems to be chugging along perfectly, when the husband suddenly loses capacity, perhaps in a car crash or work accident.  This puts his wife in a terrible bind. If she wants to do anything with the house while her husband is incapacitated, such as sell it to move closer to family or refinance to a lower rate, she can’t. Bottom line: both spouses signed for the loan, therefore, both signatures are required to make changes, even if the husband has lost capacity and cannot sign.  A simple, inexpensive Durable Power of Attorney would have allowed the wife to sign for the husband for financial matters when he lost capacity. This is one example of why Estate Planning is a smart decision, even if you don’t think your time is near. Accidents can happen at any stage of life. Matthew Hart is a California Licensed Attorney who is an Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law Specialist certified by the State Bar of California. His office is in Antioch and he can be reached at 925-754-2000 or www.MatthewHartLaw.com.

This is an excerpt from an article written by Matthew Hart that was originally published in the Antioch Herald newspaper.